Is Wenger-ball being Bould-dozed over?


We have all witnessed a significant change in the way Arsenal played in our two most recent games against Bayern and Swansea. Arsenal have played more compact and conservative, and we are playing not too dissimilar from the way we did during the first few games of the season.

Our full-backs are not bombing forwards as much anymore, and usually only one commits himself forward at any given time. Defence and midfield play closer together and move more up and down the pitch as a ‘double-bank’; and we also don’t play with a high defensive line as much as we used to do. Our two DMs stay closer together and operate more as a horizontal unit in front of the back four, and don’t often allow themselves anymore to get stretched vertically in midfield.

It now looks like we regularly have two sections in the team: ‘the back-seven’ and the ‘front-four’. The former makes us more solid and organised in terms of protecting our goal, and the latter is left with the task to somehow create chances and score goals.

During our first four games, we proved to be very solid at the back but we also did not create enough chances/ scored enough goals. It looked like Bould – who apparently had been given the task to make us defend better – had made us very solid at the back, but at the expense of our attacking endeavours, as well as our style of football to some extent.

Although Arsenal were not playing badly, especially if you take into account the large number of changes in personnel within the first team, but we were not scoring enough goals; leading to too many draws and us dropping too many points in the process.

I reckon Wenger changed our style of play by making the second DM play in a more advanced midfield position, in order to support our attack better: instead of a unit of seven and a unit of four, we played more with a unit of six at the back and a unit of five up-front. On top of that our FB’s were encouraged to constantly support our attackers and even one of CB’s was asked to join our attacking efforts.

We started to create more chances and score more goals, but gradually we also became weaker at the back and began to leak more goals; especially, and bizarrely, at home. Wengerball was not working very well, as we often gave games away during the first halves of our matches, whilst not being able to produce enough goals to compensate for this; despite some gutsy and productive second half performances.

Now that we are out of all cup-competitions and we still have a good chance to make it into the top-four, Wenger and Bould seem to have changed tactics again. I reckon Arsenal will be set up very similar to how we played against Bayern and Swansea for the rest of the season.

I reckon Bould will be most pleased with this, but Wenger will see it also as the best way of getting into the top-four this season. It won’t be pretty at times, and there is still a risk we will not score enough goals to get all three points from all our remaining games, but it is our best chance to get back into the CL again next season.

Wenger-ball will be kept on hold and I am sure Arsene and Bould will have another go next season, but for now it is the Bould-dozer that rules.

I reckon the next nine games will be an important building period for the team; as in becoming more solid and learning to defend and attack as team. Then come the summer, Arsene and Bould can get a couple of quality additions to tweak the team to the next level.

Written by: Total Arsenal.

172 thoughts on “Is Wenger-ball being Bould-dozed over?

  • Great post TA.

    When talking about Wenger- ball I think Wenger was forced to change from his system of Wenger- ball. Giroud, Monreal, Santi and Podolski are not used to playing Wenger- ball and this showed with Giroud struggling to fit into our system at times this season. Podolski is a more of a direct type player and Monreal does not seem used to doing more attacking than defending. These players will need time to adapt to the system Wenger uses. Wenger will probably go thorugh his system with the Arsenal team and any new players for the next season so every player can play Wenger- ball with no problem.

    Should Denilson get another chance in the Arsenal midfield?

  • People who say that Wenger is stubborn and his teams always play the same way are wrong. He is prepared to change his system when necessary to get the results needed and TA’s article shows the change in tactic which the Arsenal team are using.

  • I doubt it very much, AFC. But I do think that the key for an improved Wengerball lays with the right balance in midfield, and with the good point you made re getting the newly bought players to understand how to play it.

    For a better balance we need a beast of a DM who can play footie as well, and see whether both Jack and Cazorla can work together in the centre of the midfield, or whether we need to buy a new nr10 ‘shadow striker/attacking midfielder’. This could be Jovetic, with a beastly DM and Jack behind him (and Cazorla on one of the wings).

  • Rohan wrote on the previous blog:

    AFC, i’m actually concerned that we’ll sign that many players, I wrote an article on my blog a couple of weeks ago about how more than three signings in pre-season tends to result in a poorer performances. Out of the years that i’ve looked at -Over 12 seasons back – only two teams that have managed to win the league did so signing more than three players – Chelsea 05 and Man City last season – and those were both as a result of ridiculous spending and a little good fortune.Given that we are supposed to be spending to compete for league titles next season, we should limit the number of our purchases.

  • It’s about time Bould shd have some tactical say.Football is about atttack but also about winning. Wenger wants to win instyle which is very difficult to achieve.Winning ugly doesn’t appeal to the fm but he must be realistic.Winning ugly has its merits.
    Who cares whether Chelsea played ugly to win the cl but win they did.You look at some of the games the gunners shd be winning but end up drawing or worse losing.Perhaps the fm has realised not belatedly that winning ugly could secure 4th.

  • Rohan, considering around 9 players are likely to leave Arsenal in the summer bringing in 4 players is ok. We have to finish rebuilding our team and to do this a GK, CB, DM and ST.

  • Good article. 

    I think your assessment is as good as any. I agree that the more defensive posture might be safest for the run in.
    I also expect Wenger ball to be resumed and refreshed next term. The bedding in of this seasons signings plus the addition of some quality will help.
    Im optimistic. 

  • Hi William,

    Winning ugly has its place, but I surely hope that when we win the CL it is in style and not the Chavs way.

    Btw when you use fm what does it stand for? French Master? 😕

  • Also TA what did were you talking about when you were saying that

    you doubt it very much.

  • Agree TA, Chelsea were the luckiest team ever to win the CL and probably will never win it again.

  • Hi and welcome TomNW5

    It was thinking today how relatively easy it is to play non-Wenger-ball or Fergieballs or Maureeballs, and how hard it is to play Wengerball. I am convinced the whole thing is on hold now till the end of the season, but let’s hope Wengerball will indeed return.

  • I very much doubt he will TA. Only thing is he is playing really well in Brazil and is still young. Maybe he has matured and could be the person to replace Arshavin.

    Personally looks like the sort of flair midfielder we need. I think he has burnt his bridges at Arsenal. I have to admire him for not sitting on our bench getting his pay cheque. At least he has gone back to his home country and in my opinion his reputation as a footballer is still intact. He has not ruined his career in any way like other players at Arsenal have.

  • AFC, We may 9 players, but at worst 1 first team player. I disagree about the CB, I just don’t see a personnel issue in that position – Koscielny, Mertesacker and Vermaelen are all very capable when properly deployed and we have miquel coming through. GK is debatable, but I am open to a new one as the jury is still out on fabianski. DM, I agree. Up front i think it is forgotten that we should be recieving Joel Campbell back from loan, who is making huge strides at Betis. In my opinion, I feel that we should invest in a Left Attacking Midfielder to allow Podolski free reign in the middle rather than sign a striker – I feel him and Giroud will look even better next season and it is lower-risk than signing a big-name foreign striker, who could well struggle as he gets used to the league- I know these are fairly against the grain comments but it’s how I see it.

  • Rohan, in a team you are supposed to have two players in every position so that is 4 CBs. Supposse we want to rest two of our CB who do we play. I can only think of Miquel being our 4th CB. Not sure if he is ready.

    Regarding striker you might be onto something there. People say we need a ST the complete opposite of Giroud. This is very hard to find. In my opinion this is Podoski. We should be buying more AMs like Isco to free up the likes of Podolski and Walcott to play up front.

  • Re: Denilson -he got into a little twitter heat recently though with a sao paulo fan – I do tend to feel that when Wenger gives up on players it’s for good reason. I do still like the guy though, maybe it’s his classic brazilian name or just his charming boyish face 😀 I’m open to having him back.

  • In regards to a CB, it should be a case of either allowing Miquel to step up, or replacing him with another young CB, there is no way that we should have 4 defenders aged between 27-30 at the club, with no reasonable young cover for the coming season. A player like Zouma is fine. Also i should clarify when I say 2-3 signings max i’m talking regular first team players, i don’t mean cover players that get 5-10 games in the season.

  • Not bad but not great, as i’ve been ill a lot of the week so i’ve struggled to write articles, feeling better now so starting to get round to getting things running again.

  • Rohan, I now understand why you said no more than 2-3 first team signings I get you now.

    You are right regarding the age of the CBs. Our full backs are like this as well. Jenk and Gibbs who are young and Sagna and Monreal who are older.

    I now get your points. Good timing as well considering this is my last reply for tonight.

  • Rohan, please can you email me a link to your site again; I have somehow lost it. I would like to include your site in BK’s blogrole.

  • New poster here and I’m a supporter of management….

    While I’d like to believe there’s flexibility and that the coaches are giving instructions to the players I think it’s (completely) impossible to tell if it’s Bould or Wenger or just the combination of players doing their own thing out there. The one constant between the first four matches and these last two was the absence of Jack Wilshere. Maybe not having Jack in the line-up is the key to defensive solidity…..

    My point is that it’s all correlation and the sample size is too small. Those first few matches were against poor teams hoping for a point (with the exception of Liverpool away, who were dealing with a new manager/new system). Bayern away was a complete one-off situation (they still “beat us”) and the Swansea first half was hardly a convincing defensive performance. Another correlation between that match and the early ones was the presence of (Vassiriki) Abou Diaby in our mid-field. Is dropping Jack for VAD-2 the answer? I sincerely doubt it….

    In truth, I think the team will need a more offensive approach as we need 3 points per match during the run-in. Luckily the schedule suits us and (maybe) the big difference will be the “collective belief” that Wenger has talked about (over and over and over)….As much as the team has stumbled I think we can do it and it’s very good we had that ten day break (and now another one) and that we’ve plumbed the depth of the squad just a bit with successful opportunities taken by the likes of Fabianski, Koscielny, Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Gervinho. Monreal and Gibbs and Jenkinson have also done well. Even the relatively poor outings of Rosicky and Diaby in these past two matches suggest that we have “options” while Jack (hopefully) freshens up for the run-in….

    We shall see….and I’m hoping for the best. I also agree (with management) that it’s not about bodies but about bringing in real quality that can bring the level of the whole team up. Again, we shall see…..Finally, is it really Wenger-Ball when we routinely have our keeper punt the ball upfield to Giroud?….

  •, it’s linked into the name on my comments as well, and thanks a lot as well btw. Also I’m just finishing off an article and should be able to get it to you tomorrow sometime, it’s got a degree of continuity to this one as well so that should be good.

  • Hi and welcome 17HT,

    You are making some very good points.

    Agreed it has not been Wengerball this season. It is more like we have been working towards it, but with little success.

    I have little doubt that the tactical changes I described in the post are deliberate, and I feel we played with similar tactics at the start of the season. But yes, let’s see what happens next.

  • Just a quick comment before I read the article in response to Rohan’s theory on signing 4 or more players generally not bringing success.

    In a way, there is a ton of merit to your theory, since in essence it takes a while for new players to learn a system and bed into any side. However, if Arsenal were to say buy Messi, Iniesta, Busquets and Cesc from Barca, I can guarantee you that Arsenal would win the title next year. Of course, those are 4 world-class talents and they fit into your category of ridiculous over-spending. However, I take it one step further by challenging the player’s skill set and how the academies they were developed at over their careers can disprove your theory.

    For example, I believe that any class Spanish player would fit seamlessly into any Arsenal side. You don’t need to look far to prove my assumption since Monreal and Santi are two first-hand, live examples. The reason for this is that in Spain, they are taught to pass and play collective team football before ever learning other aspects of the game, such as fitness, dribbling, shooting etc. These skills are undoubtedly naturally developed as they progress through the ranks of their academies, however there is never a heavy focus on fitness.

    The skill displayed and developed by Spanish footballers is the exact breed of player that succeeds in playing Wengerball. For the most part, Wengerball encourages creativity in link-up play, to be patient in the build-up, to hold possession to frustrate opponents and to play a collective team game, where everyone contributes at both ends of the pitch. Jesus Navas, Negredo, Villa, Isco, Benat, Muniain, Amorebieta, Ander Herrera, Oscar de Marcos, Susaeta, etc. would all immediately fit seamlessly into in our side and improve the quality at any of their respective positions.

    So then, that leaves us with the first exception that 4 or more Spanish players would be able to improve our side immediately and the transition into our team would not hinder the potential of us winning the title in the 13-14 season.

    The other contention I have with your theory is a minor caveat. I believe your theory would hold more weight if it stated that 4 or more players will have a more difficult time winning the title if they are NOT starters.

    For example, Manure added van Judas, Kagawa, Buttner and Powell. Buttner and Powell hardly ever feature for Manure and Kagawa is in and out of the line-up, generally because he has either been injured or has been asked to play out of position. van Judas is the only member of the four players that has made been a regular in the starting eleven.

    So, if Arsenal were to add a ST, DM, CB and GK, there is no guarantee that all four would be starters. In fact, I am very confident that any GK bought in the summer TW would be an experienced back-up to help give Ches some healthy competition. Any DM would rotate in the dual set-up with Diaby, Coquelin, Arteta and Ramsey. Any CB added would rotate with Koscielny, Mertesacker/Vermaelen (I truly believe if we buy a class CB like Amorebieta or one with a lot of potential like N’Koulou that one will be sold). Finally, I think any striker we buy will likely start and be rotated with Podolski and Giroud too. I guess my point is that we would be bedding four new players into our squad, but if there are no significant sales, the majority of our core players from this year will remain.

    Thus, the transition would not be a huge shock to our team or disrupt chemistry. That’s my mentality and hope anyway, whether or not the new transfers bed into our side and adjust to the rigours of the PL that quickly is a different matter altogether. However, in theory, they will be give more time to get their feet wet since we have established players capable of starting if they are not deemed ready. At worst then, all the new signings would then be adding further quality and depth to our team, which is necessary for any team challenging for the PL title and in multiple competitions (CL/Europa, FA Cup, Capital One Cup).

  • Hahaha guess that wasn’t a quick comment, but I had some points of contention, with what is otherwise a very interesting and noteworthy theory!

  • The point is we’ve never had a stable defensive unit under Wenger, for example and their are countless, the joke defending against Liverpool when we score in the 8th minute of injury time and then give a penalty away!

  • TA,

    You’ve spoiled me with a very analytical and well-thought out article. You know exactly how my mind works and you know this will likely be a long response because of it! Fantastic job by the way :).

    First of all, it has been said by many of the Invincibles that the Arsenal then did not play as pretty as the Arsenal of today. There was more power and aggression in their game and they were a well-oiled machine that defended and attacked together, albeit sometimes in compartments much like the success of your categorized “Bouldball”.

    What the Invincibles fail to realize/mention is that it’s much easier to compartmentalize the attack and defence when you have world-class players in both compartments. Henry, Bergkamp and Pires (Ljungberg to an extent too) were able to display their magic up front on their own or with less because they were exceptional talents. Between the aforementioned players, they could create scoring opportunities and link-up with one another and terrorize defences while being outnumbered. It also helped that Vieira would frequently join the attack and gracefully bulldoze his way through everyone that stood in it.

    In addition, the Invincibles (or Arsenal of the past) were committed to both ends of the pitch. The players were confident enough in their own abilities that they knew they could score at any point in a game and never sacrificed their defensive responsibilities to increase their own statistics/worth. There was a strong team mentality that resonated throughout the squad and the players adapted to any situation, whether it be a compartmentalized strategy or moving up and down like a well-oiled machine. There were no flaws in our system or in the quality of our players on the pitch, there was NO ONE who compete with our talent as it was in abundance at every single position.

    Fast forward to the present day, and this strategy does not work quite as well. Why? We simply lack the quality to play as the Invincibles did. There is not enough talent or depth in this squad to say otherwise. We have a good group of players who buy into the collective team identity, but the TALENT is lacking to play a compartmentalized game. Players are also not committed enough to defend for entire parts of the game and others are simply not blessed with good defensive instincts.

    The “Bouldball” strategy works best for this current squad because of the aforementioned lack of quality. It helps to mask those deficiencies by sacrificing a bit of free-flowing, creative football to be committed and responsible defensively first. The team plays in hopes of not conceding and clawing to a 1-0 or 2-0 victory opposed to playing “Wengerball” and having the confidence to know that we can outscore any opponent. We cannot fully adopt the “Wengerball” strategy of old until we acknowledge and improve the quality in this squad. Only then can we start to play as the team that Wenger envisioned and challenge for the title in earnest through the “total football” approach.

    However, I am not recommending that we completely abandon the “Bouldball” strategy either. It is an extremely effective way to close out tight/important games and the basis of collective defending should always be in the mentality for any successful side.

  • Highbury Harmony, you actually kinda agree with me on the matter, when I said about 2-3 players, I meant first team regular players (check my article , I swear 🙂 ) – the ones that would make the headlines. Like you say Man united signed 4 players this summer but when writing the article I only considered players who made more than 10 first team appearances to be first team signings – thus 2.
    It is also not a hard and fast rule, because as you say we can sign players that have the same philosophies, but I do doubt that we will sign our players solely from Spain. Wenger is more likely to buy a player who may struggle at first but will prosper once he learns our system. This is some-what evidenced by Giroud, Podolski, Mertesacker.
    It’s also very clear that we are in no way able to spend money at the same rate as the man cities, chelsea’s so we should be under no illusion that our advantage must be gained at the training ground. Maintaining a stem to our team should be the first step – look at Man Utd or Barca, the most successful teams ATM. Neither bring in vast quantities in the reinforcement department each season.
    Finally I should just add that even if a player has played in a similar philosophy it is still detrimental to bring in too many players as different players still make different moves, being able to recognise what your teammate will do is just as important as being able to work under the general philosophy.

  • HighburyHarmony I can’t see the point you’re making, obviously when you have better technical players than the opposition 9 times out of 10 they’ll roll over. My point is when Wenger faces sturdier opponents 9 times out of 10 he’s found wanting.

  • Rohan, then I do agree with your theory quite a bit then as I have yet to read the full article :).

    However, I believe my point about Spanish players still stands too hahaha! Spanish players have an innate ability to where each other will be/are moving to, I can’t explain it but look at how quickly Santi and Arteta adapted to one another. This allows them to take less time to transition into a squad where other Spanish players are prevalent, since the academies they grow up in, preach the same philosophies.

    To be honest though, when a comment encourages to post a comment in that much detail, it is high praise. So congrats to a very interesting theory and one that is likely to always hold true because it takes time to adjust to new circumstances, whether that be country, team, systems etc, in addition to familiarity with the new players around you.

    In addition, I disagree with you that AW will only buy the unfinished article this summer. The recent trend in his purchases (Summer and January TWs) have been in proven and established players (Giroud aside). I think AW now better understands the transfer market and the potential in a players’ return and has learned from his past mistakes and errors in judgement. However, only time will tell :), but I’d still take the unfinished article in Jovetic who has burgeoning world-class talent than the unfinished article in a player like Giroud who’ll likely max out at a good to very-good striker.

  • Julian, it’s interesting how you see my point, yet agree with me. I’m saying the strategy that worked for Wengerball then was successful because he had more quality throughout the entire squad. As you have stated, that type of squad will win 9 times out of 10.

    Any “total football” strategy becomes more successful when you have more quality, hence why I am criticizing our current squad for lacking such quality. We are more effective in the Bouldball strategy because it adheres and beckons for defensive responsibilities above all else. It also manages to mask the deficiencies we currently have in DM and in our transition game.

  • Also, having more talented players than the other team does not always work, there must be a collective buy-in to the team’s objective and style of play. The manager must be able to properly control and give structure to his players, and AW was magnificent at this re: the Invincibles. Simply massing the best players is not a successful nor sustainable strategy (re: $hitty this year and Real Madrid during the Los Galacticos years).

  • On another note Julian, I’m glad that you are responding with more than one liners. I enjoy hearing your thoughts and debating with you when you are more expressive and allow me to properly understand your perspective.

  • Top Ten Best Paid Managers In 2012-2013 – Figures In Euros. 1. Mourinho (14 mill) 2. Ancelloti (12 mill)
    3. Lippi (11 mill) 4. Hiddink (10.8 mill) 5. Dalglish (10 mill) 6. WENGER (9.4 Mill) 7. Capello (9.2 mill) 8. Mancini (7.6 mill) 9. Ferguson (7.5 mill) 10. Camacho (6.1 míll). Dalglish was payoff.

  • Hey, like I said above, I’m just a noobie, but this is (far) more interesting (and positive) stuff than other places….

    I was actually living in Spain this past autumn and I see things a little differently. At the lower levels (I was in Granada) my impression is that players do a lot of watching and waiting to see if their teammates can do something with the ball. The game then (IMO) seemed quite a bit less dynamic than the English game…. I saw Falcao play at Granada and I think he will be an epic failure if he moves to England. (City or Chelsea being the likely winners of that bidding war….), but that’s just my take. Another Atletico player, Chelsea loanee keeper, Cortois, I think, will be a dominant talent and fine long-term replacement for Petr Cech….

    In fact, I don’t know all the Spanish names mentioned but I agree with the general sentiment…. Isco (for example….) seems a sturdier version of our boy Cesc…. And I agree that fitness is a big issue. For me, in these recent matches and generally since the turn of the year, Santi’s ability to play the full 90 has been a huge factor in whatever success we’ve eked out (these last two matches in particular). Given that only so many players can make it at Barca and Real Madrid, it’s most certainly an untapped market. Still, the success of a player like Carlos Vela at Real Sociedad suggests that England has its own difficulties, starting with the fact that the refs will rarely reward the culture of simulation unless your surname starts with the letters Roone or Gerrar….

    Anyhow, If we can get up for a CL spot I wouldn’t expect a lot of new bodies coming in. We need improvement at the dual pivot position that Ramsey and Diaby and Arteta occupy but it might come from within if we could just have a better start to the season (i.e. Koscielny or Vermaelen maybe have the ball skills to play in this area). This, however, feels like the most fertile ground for a decent money signing. (How long can we count on Arteta staying fit?….) Another big body up front also seems worthwhile given that Giroud is on the older side and is always feigning injury….If he were actually hurt one of those times he was faking it, we’d have to look at an entirely new approach to our current route one. Maybe we’d go back to Wengerball, or something…. Overall I don’t see our economist/CEO/manager suddenly breaking the bank…. Low expectations are the key to happiness, I always say….but some freshening of the squad seems imperative….

    I don’t know about this place, but in other spots in the Goonersphere it’s all about firing Wenger, to which I always wonder, “and replace with whom, exactly”? Bould would be interim personified. I like Martinez because I fantasize about a conduit to Spanish talent and a sense of patience. Our current level is avoiding relegation (from the CL) and that’s his specialty (at the next lower level)….Lots of people want a big name, but those are the same ones who want Falcao. Overall, we as supporters are powerless so my plan is to hope for the best–getting up for 4th (or better) and strengthening in the summer. Like I said above: we shall see….

  • There is no such thing as losing pretty. Being out of all competitions before the ides of March predictably for a sustained period makes Wengerball as desirable as Russian roulette. The end should justify the means. Wengerball appears at times too premised on the unsinkable sanctity of the means justifying the end. If, finally, he is beginning to doubt his own infallibility and his unparalleled brilliance, that can only be good news for the long suffering faithful.

  • @ Julian.. It’s depend on the source you got..

    According to Brazilian sports magazine Plural Consultoria, now Jose Mourinho is highest-paid football manager of the world. This is a complete list of the 30 highest-paid coaches in the world.

    Listed in millions of euros, and done so in gross wages:

    1. José Mourinho (Real Madrid15,3)
    2. Carlo Ancelotti (PSG 13,5)
    3. Marcello Lippi (Guangzhou Evergrande 10)
    4. Alex Ferguson (Manchester United 9,4)
    5. Arsene Wenger (Arsenal 9,3)
    6. Guus Hiddink (Anzhi 8,3)
    7. Fabio Capello (Russia 7,8)
    8. Tito Vilanova (Barcelona 7)
    9. Jose’ Antonio Camacho (China 5,9), Roberto Mancini (Manchester City 5,9)
    11. Frank Rijkaard (Saudi Arabia 5,3)
    12. Jupp Heynckes (Bayern Munich 5,2)
    13. André Villas Boas (Tottenham 4,5)
    14. Harry Redknapp (Queens Park Rangers 4)
    15. Jorge Jesus (Benfica 4)
    16. David Moyes (Everton 3,6), Manuel Pellegrini (Malaga 3,6), Paulo Autuori (Qatar 3,6)
    19. Abel Braga (Fluminense 3,5)
    20. Luciano Spaletti (Zenit 3,3)
    21. Antonio Conte (Juventus 3), Cesare Prandelli (Italia 3), Vanderlei Luxemburgo (Gremio 3), Muricy Ramalho (Santos 3), Tite (Corinthians 3)
    26. Ottmar Hitzfeld (Svizzera 2,6)
    27. Joachim Loew (Germany 2,5), Marcelo Bielsa (AthleticBilbao 2,5), Martin O’Neil (Sunderland 2,5), Roy Hodgson (England 2,5)

    I think this one is more accurate.. cause it include Vilanova, AVB and Redknapp..
    But it said GROSS not NET.. So we never know got the biggest in hand.. As Beckham is the richest football player.. more than Messi and Ronaldo..

  • hellooooo ….. let me out ……… helloooo I can’t take anymore ……………. is driving me whacky …………………..

    TA …………….. where are u ??????

  • Thank you Henrycan. This is useful information. 9.3 million Euros every year is like a trophy, excuse me, is like a gold mine. Pity I am just a poor Arsenal fan, not the one getting the “trophy”.

  • TA.. I don’t care whose ball we play.. as long as we win.. hehehe..

    And Maybe your wish will come true as rumours said about Song will coming back.. hehehehe..
    And this one is even wilder.. hehehe..
    There has been some very interesting rumours emerge which have suggested we will be making a summer move to try and bring Barcelona trio Martin Montoya, Alexis Sanchez and Alex Song to the Emirates….

  • 17H at 4.19,

    Fine comment and nice to have somebody else understanding the Spanish League really well (not me though). This is not a pro-Wenger site per se, but a pro-Arsenal and pro-footie one first and for all. There is a lot of respect here in general for the manager and what he has done, and his loyalty for the club when he could have left us in the lurge.

    Anyway, hope to see you more here with your fine comments.

  • Fantastic article TA. You seem to have it nailed spot on. These tactics have certainly made us a better team defensively. Another way you could look at it is this. Like you have said, currently we play with two DM’s simply because of the personnel we have. This creates a numbers deficit going forward especially when we have Giroud who isn’t exactly the skilled striker needed to compensate for the lack of numbers. However what if we brought in a strong, natural, mobile, physical DM whose sole job would be to protect the back 4. He could be trained to cover any player in the back who surges forward, break any attacks before they get to our defense and generally make a nuisance of himself by striking fear into opponents hearts. This way we would have a solid back 5 allowing the other 5 to focus on unlocking defenses and scoring. Now imagine if those 5 were Jack, Santi, Poldi, Jovetic and Theo where Jack can be the dominant AM, Santi would play just behind Jovetic and even look for small spaces that would allow him to have a go at goal and the poldi, Jovetic and Theo’s jobs were to form an attacking 3 with freedom of movement to create for each other and score? Can you imagine how fearsome we would be?

  • hahahaha.. yes TA.. but would it be awsome if true.. all in one package.. hehehhe..

  • And does anyone else share my opinion that Diaby’s time as an arsenal player is up? I mean I get why Arsene has kept him all this time, he is a genuinely talented player who if not for his constant injuries would most probably be a world beater by now. However time has proved that he can never stay fit for even 10 games and this has hampered his development a great deal. I feel that maybe its time we cut our losses..Along with Arshavin, Squillaci, Chamakh, Bendtner, Denilson, Djourou, Park. Also, I feel that Coquelin is good enough to be given a go. He really puts in inspired performances especially at RB. Thoughts?

  • De heer Clogmeister,

    ALL my comments, since the appearance of, have gone into moderation — which is why I gave up last night.

    This is WAR!!

    But before I go, I must say I loved the Post and the follow up comments from the guys are superb too. I am afraid they are all going to have to sleep during (their) day and wait until I get up in the UK!! 🙂

  • Redders, I will need to look into it. It is all very strange. Apologies for the inconvenience, and I can only say it is a WordPress thing… 😦

  • Redders – Now, now, don’t start blaming it all on MBJ – He was up very late last actually engaging in debate with HH, so he is coming along slowly … It’s sort of like ‘grooming’ without the sex, err, that is unless he gets chatting with glic? ha ha

    I know I thought he was just some kid on his Easter break looking for something to do rather than swat up for forthcoming exams? Whereas he has got a deeper feeling for Arsenal, admittedly, on the goomy and doomier side, but given time ….?

    Anyway, were you going to say anything of interest in these missing comments?

  • It can only be a good thing if the team has another set of tactic in case one does not work. In theory, or in Arsene’s idea, the best way of football should work and beat the other side but the team cannot play that well far too often. As such, it is a very good news that they have a soild plan just in case they are in trouble. They can easily stable the situation when their mobile football does not work too well and wait for the moment. If the other side wears down, they can always shift back to a more aggressive play to the goal. or they can sit to wait for the counter. On the other hand, we do not want the team to give up this so called “wenger ball”.

  • Actually, Gerry, joking aside, if you care to look back at the comments, yesterday, and in the apparent absence of our Leader, you will find that I was reassuring Mario-bobby-call.meJules that if he wrote intelligible comments without the name calling and disruptive jibes, whatever his views were, he would not be binned, banned or bonked (by Glic).

    At the end of the day, it is TA’s site, which he has worked very hard to make into a great focus for fellow Gooners, and if anyone is antagonizing other bloggers with pointless and garrulous jibes he has the right to kick them into touch.

    Them is the rules. Simple and easily understood.

  • Morning, Marcus 🙂

    As I cannot get on the site as Red Arse, I have changed my avatar name.

    I think I disagree with the detail of your comment @ 7:51 although you may have a point about Diaby’s injury record.

    What I mean is that the players you have mentioned, Denilson, Bendtner et al, need to go because they are just not good enough, whereas Diaby has a special talent, and has been cursed by ill luck through no fault of his own.

    We were talking yesterday about player loyalty (or the lack of it) and bigging up the fans’ loyalty to the club, but it would be very wrong to say to Diaby ‘yes, it’s not your fault – but tough luck – out you go’. I could not go along with that.

    Anyway, he seems to be coming out of the slough of despondency caused by the injury setbacks just lately, albeit with minor setbacks, and this could be just the wrong time to get rid of him.

  • Incidentally, can I just say a special thanks for some really good stuff from HH, Rohan and 17highburyterrace in the wee small hours. way to go guys! 😀

  • Hi Marcus, I love the thought of a proper DM with additional football qualities enabling the rest of midfield and attack to play higher up the pitch. I reckon because of Arteta’s limitations in certain areas, the box to box midfielder has to help out too much on the defensive side of things, depriving our attack from the additional support. Unless that person somehow tries to do it all (Song last season), which can lead to both more support up-front but also frailties at the back. Next season can be very different if Arsenal buy our DM beast during the summer.

    Have you been speaking to your friend Wanyama yet? haha 🙂

  • Marcus, re Diaby: the head says let go, the heart says one more season. It has not been easy for him and the talent is there for everybody to see, but he is hopelessly inconsistent and I am not sure whether he will be able to improve on this any more?!

  • Knowing our luck, we’ll sell Diaby and he’ll suddenly be injury-free.
    Also has anyone heard that Szczesney’s dad has criticised wenger for playing him whilst injured? It seems to be a recurring theme that might be contributing to Diaby’s injury woes

  • To be clear, Szczesney’s dad criticised Wenger for playing Szczesney whilst injured, not Diaby. But Diaby may also be being deployed when not fully fit a lot of the time – I do think there is a backroom problem when it comes to fitness coaching/physiotherapy

  • NW all agreed. I have always said that any decent manager can play the way Fergie and Maureen manage their teams. Aim to be solid at the back and compact in the middle, and change over quickly from defending to attacking, utilising the space in front through fast wingers and with at least two strikers in the box to finish off the opportunity. Absorb, take the ball off, pounce, score.

    Wengerball is totally different approach aimed at (total) control of games, passing, and creating opportunities through build-up play and beautiful attacking combinations. If and when it works out, it is both beautiful and deadly, but it is really hard to get it right.

    I am convinced that if Arsene decided to play like Fergie or Maureen from now on, he would win the PL in no time. But that is not what he is all about, and I agree.

  • Hi Rohan,

    As you probably know from previous post, I would love to see Song back in our midfield 🙂

    Re Diaby, I reckon he is currently playing through a (niggling) injury in order to force his fitness somehow and not give in to his body’s weaknesses. There were signs of improvement in the last game, so let’s hope he can a few good games in a row now.

    BTW your blog is on the blogrole now. 🙂

  • I know.. I’m always frustrated with his inconsistency but then when the window opens I think maybe he will do a job for us next season..sentimentality.
    And re Wanyama, we’ve spoken a few times and its good news. Here’s the situation, although he feels reeaally settled at Celtic he wants to play in the EPL. Then, like I told you he’s a man united fan at heart. However, he fears signing for them as he is well aware of African players history at the club. He also likes the way we play AND his family and especially his dad (who is his biggest influencer) desperately want him to sign for us (his dad has actually told me this countless times) mainly because they all (including Wanyama) believe that Wenger is the manager to make him a world beater. He’s told me that Arsenal scouts have actually been deployed to watch him play and he would jump at the chance to sign for us if we came calling in the summer, provided we make the champions league. The truth is the ball is in our court because I know for a fact that Wanyama heeds his father’s advice like its law. When he signed for Celtic, Udinese wanted him and at the time they were the better club in a bigger league but on his father’s advise he chose Celtic.

  • Marcus that is African music to my ears! 🙂

    I watched him play against Juve and boy what a force he is. The Juve tactics were simply: don’t go through the centre, avoid Wanyama at all costs. He bossed the area, at least at home (did not see the return game).

  • The American..
    I do understand that. That’s why I posed it as a question..I sometimes in a fit of frustration call for his departure but then remember his talent and loyalty and take it back. Maybe once Wenger gets rid of the dead weight and signs quality players (isco or gotze perhaps?) Diaby can be used sparingly and rotated to get the best out of him..

  • Morning Scrotumticklers 😆

    Fine post oh evil one 🙂

    I have no problem winning ugly until the end of the season, it will just be like the beautiful Arsenal having an extended Halloween night, where as our swamp thing neighbours with the likes of Bale, Sandro, Friedel, Walker and De Formed etc win ugly, draw ugly and lose ugly because basically they are f**king ugly !.
    Are you not glad that I bring such technical expertise to BK !. hahahaha

    I too am busy in setting up my own Bog Roll in the Karsi but feel relieved Totes, it wont need putting on your blog role !. hahaha

  • Trouble is Totes, if we change it to the SMF…… Vic`s will be charged under the Trades Discription Act !. hahaha
    Right off to inquire about Solar Panels for the Love Shack .

    Later Sexy Beasts !. hahaha

  • Marcus,

    Your views on Diaby are very similar to mine as I get frustrated too when it seems to be one step forward and two back at times.

    He is a class player, and if (and it is a big IF) he can be kept fit by the Arsenal medical fellows we could be rewarded for our patience.

    Here’s hoping! 🙂

  • TA,
    Trust me, he wants Wanyama at the grove more than I do. Like I said, its Wenger’s play now.
    I get you. Kind of like RVP. Though let’s not talk about him. His treachery still burns.

  • And we’ve been linked with Alexis Sanchez..I know its most likely baseless rumour but my word he’d be a terrific signing..

  • TA,Yes it does. Usually the name is given to someone who shows resilience character and a fighting spirit. Or is really good at something, you know. Like the way you could say Falcao is an animal or Falcao is a beast…

  • Glic,
    We seem to be on the very same page. I am soooooooooooo infatuated with Isco..but I think we could accommodate them both. Initially I was thinking Isco could be brought in and played on the wing due to his dribbling, skill and ability to cross as well as long pass but he would have the tendancy to drift in. But If we were to get them both then I think it can work.

  • TA,
    He really is. If not him then I’d also suggest Etienne Capoue. Since we were first linked with him, I made a point of watching Toulouse games when I can and I have to say, he’s the real deal. He may not be the goalscorer that Wanyama is but defensively he is exactly what we are looking for. Tall, strong, aggressive, decent passer of the ball and has a tireless work rate. He is a bit quicker on the ball than Wanyama so he’d need less time and practice to adapt to our game.

  • Marcus, don’t you find Capoue to be like a pitbull in his own zone? As soon as the game starts, he has this intense glare and patrols the whole end like maniac keeping others away from his property hahaha. He’s definitely more mobile than Wanyama and has that long stride when he runs up field, reminiscent of Vieira. If he can refine his offensive game and improve his ball control, he could become a deadly, deadly threat on any side.

  • Also, in regards to all of the Sanchez inquiries, there’s some weight to them but it’s more speculation than truth (as always). A spokesman from Udinese believes Sanchez would be a better fit at Arsenal and suddenly the tabloids churn a rumour to make sense of his situation and lack of playing time at Barca.

    However, I caution the idea of taking Sanchez. He seems to lack strength on the ground and loves to dive, a la Suarez. He’s got incredible ball control/dribbling, pace to burn and can link-up very well with teammates though. Still, I can’t really see him being lured to Arsenal for some reason and Barca hardly ever sell their top players.

  • Marcus, not a chance that Diaby’s time with Arsenal is up. Perhaps it’s my sentimental side getting to me, but I just cannot see Arsene giving him up after all this time. I would loathe seeing him flourish elsewhere and every time I see those long strides running up the pitch, I’m mesmerized and cannot take my eyes off the screen.

    The only way to keep Diaby healthy is to have frequent rotation in midfield (ie buying a proper DM to rotate between Arteta, Diaby, Ramsey and the DM). Constant rotation will allow Diaby to ease into a season and last longer, in addition to improving his mental strength in knowing that he can play worry-free of injuries. When he’s at his best, no one can stop him and you can tell when he’s off, it’s because he’s playing cautious and reserved in fear of collecting an injury.

  • Hahahaha TA..I’m with you.

    HH, isn’t that what makes him just what we need. I’d go as far as to say he’s a bully. I watched him play vs Montpellier and I noticed something. There’s this winger Montpellier have, small frame but he’s a live wire (can’t remember his name). Even against Arsenal he really ran Vermaelen ragged. So what Capoue did was at the beginning of the game, he made a really strong challenge on him, meant to intimidate and boy did it work. Every time he came up against Capoue he would make a rash pass and you could literally see the fear on his face. And that’s what Capoue does, he enjoys intimidating opponents..

  • HH,
    You’re right. But I’m not sure Diaby should be played at DM. He is a lot like Vieira the way he moves, dribbles and passes but there are two things about his game that I think rule him out as a traditional DM. First of all, he’s poor at winning back possession. His tackles are poor and he is a bit too slow to be someone who we rely on to break up attacks like Vieira used to. His second flaw is that sometimes he holds the ball too long trying to dribble his way out of situations and when he loses it and he’s the last player in front of the back four then we are in for trouble. I think that he’s talents are best suited to the box to box role.

  • Marcus, did you read my scouting report on Capoue under HH posts? I wrote an article about him and several other Arsenal targets back in Novermber/December, which can be found under the headings across the top. I’ve had my eye on Capoue for quite some time and he is 100% the enforcer I think this team needs to unleash the creativity further up field. His aerial presence, no-nonsense tackling and ability to be aggressive without receiving red cards is superb. Players fear entering Capoue’s zone and he makes his presence felt early in games. He’s also not the type of DM that sits back and breaks up plays by being patient, he runs all over the pitch in his own end, relentlessly attacking the opposition before he wins the ball back.

    And the name of that winger you are thinking of is Cabella. He is also included in another one of my articles I wrote ;). Or it may have been in the comment section in response to Richie’s article, I can’t remember now!

  • Marcus, I disagree with you that Diaby is poor at winning back position. His tackling is not aggressive or assertive, but he is very astute at positioning, much like Arteta. Diaby stripped Swansea of the ball 6-7 times last game! I reckon the lack of pace he exhibits at times correlates to his worry of picking up an injury. He sometimes has a bit of a handbrake on in order to not over-exert himself and not be on the sidelines for another couple months.

    A b2b midfielder is defined as the Vieira role. The only difference between Diaby and Vieira is that the latter was more defensively efficient and aggressive, healthier and more confident in his overall abilities. Vieira himself has stated on numerous occasions that Diaby has more skill and potential than he ever had, but that they are slightly different players too. There’s no reason why Diaby could not act as b2b in the dual DM role if he were able to maintain his health.

  • HH,
    Yeeeeeeees, cabella. That’s him. You know though, the only advantages Capoue has over Wanyama is that he is a tad quicker than him on the ball and a bit more aggressive. Otherwise Wanyama is stronger, faster (off the ball) a better passer, a waaaaaaaay more prolific goalscorer, more skilled on the ball and his aerial abilty is more refined.By this I mean Capoue will always head the ball forward without really aiming at someone but Wanyama will pass and score with his head.

  • HH,
    You make a compelling argument when you say he plays with the handbrake on due to his injury issues. But even you agree that vieira was a defensive kingpin which Diaby is not. I don’t think anyone can argue with the fact that Diaby is much a more skilled player than Vieira ever was but Vieira was efficient. If he was tackling there was a 97% chance he would win the ball, when he went forward he would either score or make an assist. Even when he was beginning attacks, he knew exactly when to run with the ball and when to release a devastating pass. These are things that Diaby lacks. Examine his goals and assist stats and compare them with how many times he goes forward and you realize that he can be very inefficient with the ball. Also, how many times have I watched as we win the ball in our defensive half, players like walcott/cazorla etc make runs in acres of space but rather than pass, Diaby opts to run with the ball ultimately scuffing out the chance? You have no idea how many times I scream at the TV screen when he does this. Also, Diaby has the very bad habit of escorting opposing players in our midfield allowing them to fashion chances (although apart from Wilshere, Rosicky and Ramsey, our midfield in general is guilty of this) instead of making challenges.

  • Marcus, I haven’t watched Wanyama as extensively since my interest in the SPL is very, very minimal (pretty much non-existent). The competition and talent in the SPL is inferior to that of La Liga, BPL, Bundesliga and Ligue 1, so I generally avoid spending my time watching Celtic or any other SPL club.

    However, this does not discount Wanyama as a top talent. My concern with Wanyama is that he’s a confessed Manure fan and even if we were able to sign him, I truly believe it’d only be a matter of time before “the little boy inside of him” called for Manure. Also, there is some concern that Wanyama hasn’t had the opportunity to prove himself outside of the CL games (which he played magnificently) against better opposition consistently.

    The only other thing I noticed is that Capoue’s defensive desire and tackling are superior to that of Wanyama. Wanyama is more proficient offensively and likes to move forward, where as Capoue is more disciplined defensively and ruthless. In terms of a DM, I’m looking for the type of player that strikes fear in the hearts of the opposition, who can be an imposing presence that other teams HATE playing against. Wanyama has some of that in hi, but Capoue embodies the “enforcer” name tag and has above average ability on the ball and passing to allow him to play our skilled game too.

  • Marcus, you have to keep in mind that Diaby often holds onto the ball due to a lack of form and confidence. He holds onto the ball longer than he should because he’s assured that keeping possession will outweigh the risk of playing a pass that could split open the opposition. Diaby’s never really able to string together a consistent run of performances, form or statistics because of the injuries that plague him.

    IMO, your criticisms are misguided in their direction towards Diaby’s lack of ability or his decision making on the field. They should be directed towards his inability to stay healthy, which could be a problem with Arsenal’s training or medical staff. I just have to direct people back to his performance against Liverpool this year, when he was EASILY the best player on the pitch. That game embodies the Diaby I know he is capable of being and what will undoubtedly occur when he gets a good run of form, without injury of course.

  • Marcus, I guarantee that I have shared every Isco video out there on BK that is possible :).

  • Between Marcus and HH, they have put a great expectancy on us aquiring Isco and one of either Wanyama or Capoue !. For such wetting of appetite it had better happen, otherwise both of you will be brought before the BK jury, where you will both be disciplined with flagellation of the hampton by Terry in his loft !. Quick Marcus, get on the phone to Victor ! hahaha

  • Now that`s not exactly true HH, you haven`t got the one of me chiselling Isco`s name on my Hampton !. hahaha

  • Hahaha Glic, is it sad that I’ve been following Isco since his days in Valencia’s youth academy?

  • Glic, I should rephrase. I’ve shared every worthwhile video of Isco on BK ;).

  • HH. When you say you have been following since his youth day`s, I hope it wasn`t a “dirty old raincoat ” sort of following !. hahaha

  • HH,
    Yeah I agree and I even said that its not that he lacks in ability. All these criticisms I have put forward wouldn’t be there if he played more because everything I’ve said against him is remedied with experience. My point however is that we have to come to terms with the fact that despite how much potential we know he has, he is injury prone. And these negative attributes continue to plague him. It’s not his fault but it is what it is.
    And re Wanyama, did you watch him at home to Juventus? He literally scared off the Juve midfield forcing them to change tactics and use wings and long balls more. Why do you think TA loves him so much. Anyway ultimately, any would do just fine for me..

  • Glic,
    Hahahahahaha mate. Get me Wenger’s phone number and I assure you that I will make atleast one out of the two deals happen…

  • Hahaha Glic, so what if it was? Can’t forget the chapeau with the raincoat either! It wouldn’t be too, too weird since I’m not THAT much older than him ;). You following him on the other hand…

  • Marcus, I saw the games against Juventus and was very impressed with Wanyama. However, my gripe was that Celtic still got blasted despite Juve slightly altering their strategy. That could certainly be pinned down to the lack of quality talent around Wanyama and not a knock on his ability to successfully keep the opposition out though. Also, it speaks volumes about how talented Juventus are ;).

    The point I’m trying to make is that Capoue plays on a fairly underwhelming side at Toulouse. However, he is often able to impose his presence on the game and alter its outcome by his aggressive style alone. He successfully renders the opponents’ star players ineffective and generally prevents them from scoring. This could be a result of his aggressive defending that allows him to close down opponents anywhere on the pitch or because of the fact that Ligue 1 opponents are often not as talented as a side like Juventus (in the case of Wanyama).

  • Much like you though, it would a future of fulfillment for me if Arsenal were able to acquire one of Wanyama or Capoue this summer! However, I’d also easily settle for a DM like Benat, Rode, Gonalons or Kondogbia just as easily, so long as we are reinforcing our side and not idle/selling significant players.

  • Great to read the dialogue between HH and Marcus re Diaby (by aid), Wanyama (animal/beast) and Capoue (carpenter).

    Wanyama simply could not carry the whole team and Celtic’s CB’s were not up to the task that day. But it was amazing how Juventus simply avoided him and the area around him as much as possible. That is the sort of beast I have been dreaming about. Like you guys, I don’t mind the carpenter joining us either, but the preference goes to animal! 🙂

  • What do you mean by “carpenter” TA? Capoue is as beastly as they come in terms of the defensive side of the game. He dominates the defensive side of the pitch and there are very few, if any others, that patrol the defensive zone like he does.

  • And unlike Wanyama, he’s not a Manure fan, which is a huge bonus in my eyes. I hate anyone who’s a confessed Manure fan and would loathe seeing them in our side, only to leave us in a few years.

  • HH,
    You’d have to educate me on the three you’ve mentioned because while I have heard of them, I know next to nothing about their skills…I have seen Gonalons and Benat though and don’t you think physically they are a bit lacking compared to the beast and the carpenter?

  • HH
    I’ll give you that one. Though zaha is a confessed gooner but signed for Man united, Theo a liverpool fan yet is fiercely loyal to us…and the list goes on. Another advantage Capoue would have over Wanyama is that he would be waaaaaaaay cheaper.

  • HH,
    I was also going back and forth between Isco and Gotze. They are pretty similar in terms of skill/abilities, size, age. I was favouring Gotze until I watched Isco play and I was sold from that point on. What do you think?

  • Marcus,

    re: Gonalons and Benat, you are absolutely correct that they lack some physicality compared to Wanyama and Capoue. Benat is still aggressive his tackling and has supreme quality on the ball and in his passing. He is more skilled than any of the other DM I have listed. However, he’s certainly not a beast in the center of the park and is a younger, faster, more skilled and defensively aggressive Arteta. In fact, he is the player currently keeping Arteta out of the National team, together with Xabi, Busquets and Javi Martinez.

    Gonalons is more like Arteta and would definitely be cheaper than Wanyama or Capoue, but he is very reliable and faster than Arteta. He’s good at reading the play and at intercepting passes/stripping the ball away cleanly. What he lacks in physicality, he also makes up for in quality and passing. However, I prefer Wanyama, Capoue and Benat to Gonalons.

    Kondogbia is a beast in every sense of the word. He’s like a less refined, late developing Vieira. He’s got an extremely powerful aerial presence (evident in the video I posted yesterday), is a strong tackler and when he runs up the pitch with those long strides, it’s easy to see the comparisons to PV4. However, the video also shows his class touch and skill with the ball. He can dribble in tight spaces and manoeuvre around defenders with ease. He’s currently at Sevilla and is surely developing/refining his technical abilities there and will become a better player as a result of his learning there.

  • Glic is a strong tickler too.

    They say it is impossible to tickle yourself, but Glic stands naked in front of the mirror, tickles himself and roars with laughter.

    Mind you, we would all roar with laughter seeing Glic in the ‘all together’!
    Just ask Terry and VCC! 😀

  • The American 17:02. I can assure you, its not a pretty sight. I feel sorry for his missus.

  • HH,
    I honestly don’t think we need another Arteta in this squad and here’s why: Since Flamini left, we’ve had players like Song (and even Arteta himself) who either are attackers at heart (Arteta) or were originally defensive but were taught how to attack (song). In the long run, this has bitten us in the arse. Arteta last season was glorious as a DM but this season he has looked out of place. Song before he left used to bomb forward and forget his defensive duties, an aspect that cost us goals and points galore. What we need now is someone with defensive instincts. Someone who is happy to sit and screen the defense without unnecessarily going forward. Also, we need a physical presence to counter the sizes of jack, santi, tomas and co.

  • Marcus, Capoue would not be WAY cheaper than Wanyama my friend :). The president of Toulouse believes that Capoue is the BEST player Toulouse has EVER developed and was reluctant to sell him for any price this past off-season. He admits that he’s likely going to have to sell him this summer or else his progression and development as an overall player will stall in Ligue 1 at Toulouse. Granted, in the many games I watched with Capoue and Sissoko together, Sissoko was more noticeable since he moves with the ball more, but Capoue’s defensive aggression and efficiency really caught my eye.

    In terms of Isco vs. Gotze, it’s really tough to pick between the two. Isco catches your eye very easily because of his pace, ball control and dribbling ability. He is able to produce some truly spectacular moments on his own and has sublime touch and awareness of opponents closing him down. However, he often dribbles too much and seems to ignore the team aspects of the game in order to take matters into his own hand to help Malaga win. Malaga adjusts and operates well with Isco as their focal point since he is the central piece in their system/set-up.

    However, evident from his last game vs. Porto, outnumber him and take away his space and he can become ineffective and prone to turnovers. Contrary to that though, he is also capable of producing some fantastic moments when closed down by multiple opponents, re: Valencia, Zenit etc. when he simply dribbled/volleyed his way out of trouble around three opponents.

    With Gotze, dare I say it (sorry Glic), but you are getting a more effective player in terms of contributing goals and assists and being involved in the collective team game. He does not over dribble too often and his instincts around the opposition’s goal are extraordinary. However, this does not mean Gotze is NOT capable of producing some truly spectacular dribbles and beat a plethora of defenders in motion, simply that he chooses to involve his teammates more.

    In Isco, I see more of Jack and in Gotze, I see a better and more effective Cazorla. Both will be world-class talents, with one more mesmerizing and the other more effective. At the end of the day, Gotze will produce more goals and assists, while Isco will produce more plays that eventually lead to a goal and more dribbles that WOW you (Gotze will produce plenty, but not as many within a game).

  • Marcus, I’m not saying we need an Arteta, since all of the options I mentioned are BETTER than Arteta and are natural DM players. Don’t be fooled when I compared Gonalons to Arteta, he’s more astute defensively and can break up attacks extremely well. Lyon are thriving with him at the DM position this year and he’ll likely be in Ligue 1’s team of the year when it’s all said and done.

  • TA, if you want to remove any of my comments and use them as posts, I suggest you go ahead and do so! I feel there are a lot of potential articles in what I have written today, my apologies!

  • Great post as usual TA. I was happy with our discipline at the start of the season. I favored taking a look at santi on the wing when things seemed stagnating. It has worked well when hes played there. I like giroud, his team play passing, effort in the air. but hes not the level of striker we need. ( would have been a great back up to rvp ) ———
    i would love to see podolski get a chance at striker, and theo too on occasion. I think they would be hungry to prove themselves there. Thats something we can use.

  • Also, Gotze is more creative around goal in his passing and dribbling, where as Isco thrives in his creativity further back when he has room to run at the opposition. Gotze is very successful in playing close to the striker too. Bear in mind, Gotze’s superior statistics may also be the result of having better players around him consistently opposed to Isco, but I don’t believe this since from all the BD games I watch, Super Mario is what makes them tick.

  • Wow fantastic discussion going on here today. I also like the sound of capoue from scout reports ive read. Most important was intimidation factor, and shutting down the opponents most dangerous player. I think we could use that, and need to rotate more. Look at age, injury histories of jack, diaby, arteta , rosicky, etc.

  • Evening all. A little off topic, but Eisfeld is playing the Under 21’s tonight, against Man U. If he comes through this game,the is is to be included in the Next Gen match next Monday. So you see what I mean about the youngsters being kept busy?

    Tonight’s match is being covered by First Row Sports ( a dodgy ESPN feed probably?), and KO is 18.00hrs – get your skates on and you might just get set in time?

  • HH,

    Is Gonalons better than Dingalings?

    Don’t try and pull the wool over my eyes, as I will refer your answer to tricky Glicy! 🙂

  • HH,
    Thorough review on Gotze and Isco. However I’ve noted that Isco is very capable of producing some scintillating team play. In fact I’d go as far as to say that although he can be guilty of overdribbling, most of his dribbles are effective. Also, you have to factor in that Gotze has had a few seasons at the top level and Isco is only currently enjoying his first at the top. Then, I’ve noticed that while both players are short, Isco is much stockier and it is much harder to dispossess him compared to Gotze.
    You said that to manage Isco, a team needs to commit bodies to cut off his space. Have you any idea how much that would benefit us? Look at it this way, no one player can mark Isco and Wilshere. Commit players to those two and you are leaving theo, poldi and santi unmarked. Leave the two insufficiently covered and they WILL punish you. See what I’m saying here?
    Plus the football Isco plays is just magnificent to watch..

  • Marcus :), I’ve been watching Isco since his youth days at Valencia’s academy. As much as I’d like to say that he’d be as effective as Gotze, he simply is not (both are two of my favourite players). He’s now had two seasons at the top level and I’ve still been more impressed with Gotze (I follow BD quite closely). It goes to show just how supremely talented Gotze is to already be performing at the level he is at in his tender age (same as Isco’s). Both have a long way to go and their potential is sky high and you cannot even begin to imagine where Gotze’s ceiling is based on his output thus far.

    Isco can link up well with teammates, but the creativity and VARIATION in attack from Gotze is what amazes me the most. He simply can do it all – over the top passes, volley goals out of the air, cross the ball with either foot, play a precise through ball that splits the opposition wide open, dribble around one, two or three defenders, score from distance, score on free kicks. Anything you can think of in terms of creativity from an AM and Gotze can do it. There is just no way of stopping him as he can beat you in a multitude of ways. Take away his space and he’ll embarrass you with his one-touch passing. Give him space and he’ll run at you and embarrass you on the dribble.

  • Redders aka the American,

    You forgot about Ringaling and Songbilong! Oh wait, erm, didn’t Songbilong once belong at Arsenal? Now there’s a tongue twister for ya hahaha!

  • HH,
    And I’ve watched 7 Malaga games this season and many BD games. There’s one very critical difference between the two. Gotze as you’ve said is a team player. He thrives on combination play and the skill and proficiency of his team mates. When the team plays badly, he will be anonymous. The team makes him better. However with Isco, it is the complete opposite. He is the centre-piece of the Malaga team. He is the kind of player who can carry the team when they are having a bad day. He is the one to keep out if you want to beat Malaga. One of his team-mates in animation admitted that he is their Messi. The fact that he has been capped by spain when people like Arteta haven’t, speaks volumes.

  • Marcus, trust me when I tell you there’s a considerable difference between the two and that Gotze is the better player. Gotze is not the product of having talented players around him, he makes everyone better around him and transforms above average players into superstars. You are entirely misguided and incorrect if you believe he is the product of the talent at BD.

    Isco, on the other hand, takes the game and matters into his hands and while he may be the central piece in Malaga’s victories, he does not make players around him better. He is very good himself in that he can single handedly dominate games, but he does not bring the best out of his teammates like Gotze does. He’s a typical player that will thrive on an average team and propel them to the CL. He will not succeed or thrive as much in a team game where there are more superstars around him who also demand possession of the ball. He needs to be the central focal point of the attack.

    In the grand scheme of things at Arsenal, Gotze would have greater success in our collective team mentality and has already shown that he is more effective and efficient in scoring and assisting on goals – precisely what our team is currently lacking, a player to play close to our central striker.

  • Take a look at that video of Gotze’s skills from this season alone, Marcus. Gotze CAN do it all as you just noted ;).

  • And on a side note Marcus, BD underperforms when Gotze does not play well :). Not the other way around!

  • What about Cazorla? I think his best position is in the hole behind Giroud..

  • Marcus, certainly Cazorla may be able to play in the role behind Giroud, but Santi tends to drift out wide or further back in the pitch to help bring the ball up since our transition game is more or less non-existent when Jack/Diaby are not fit. Santi lacks the pace that Gotze has, but the thing about Santi is he can adapt to any position he’s played at on the pitch. His combinations with Gotze would be terrifying as both are capable of finding others in tight space and both are technically gifted with both feet.

  • ooh, I concede. Gotze is better. But he’d cost heaven and Earth. Including the water bodies in between.

  • Although, he currently has a buy out clause of 30million which if we wait too long will rise to 50-60M

  • Marcus, that is what I was trying to tell you! However, it’s not about conceding as both are truly amazing talents :). But what Gotze can produce is magnificent and he is able to do it in a variety of ways. He is the perfect piece for Arsenal, while Isco would be the perfect piece for us if we didn’t already have Jack. Either way, I would NEVER complain if we acquired one and not the other!

    The media circulated a rumour that Gotze has an escape clause in his contract that allows him to be bought out of his contract at £32 million (but it may have expired in January, not entirely sure). Isco’s new buy-out clause is rumoured to be set at £35 million. It looks like it’ll take moving heaven and earth to acquire either one!

  • I am also looking at each’s ability to be deployed on the wing without harming their influence on the game and I think Gotze there wins. For Isco, its actually 30million and because of their financial woes, Malaga would accept less. Though this makes it a disadvantage meaning it opens his acquisition to an auction and in those terms, we are disadvantaged.

  • strong side tonight.


  • Redders, are you referring to my incredibly astute insight/observation @ 18:23 😉 hahaha

  • Actually Marcus, I think both players could thrive out on the wing. Isco has slightly better pace than Gotze, but Gotze’s much better at ball distribution and crossing.

    The difficulty in acquiring Isco is that he’s a born Andulsian and Malaga were his boyhood team. The club has stated on numerous occasions that they had no pressure to sell him, but the club often says one thing and operates in another way.

    Interestingly enough, Monreal and Santi could easily influence AW to pursue Isco or to influence Isco to join them at Arsenal if AW is indeed interested. With Gotze, the link isn’t quite as strong, aside from the fact that AW’s been a long-time admirer of his talent and that he has really focused his scouting resources in Germany as of late. AW’s claim was that Germany is the future of football and the next generation of top quality players will be found there.

  • Glic, can you imagine fielding a team with Isco, Jack, Gotze and Santi…would we even need to play defence? I think I just wet myself thinking about those four players all playing for Arsenal…they are my four favourite midfield players!

  • Podolski/Giroud/Theo





    *Officially foaming at the mouth* hahaha!

  • New Post from a new writer! 🙂

    Pope the Gooner tells us about his experiences when he saw our beloved team, the mighty Arsenal, live for the first time, last week against Bayern.

    Enjoy. 🙂

  • That yellow for Miquel shows why he`s still not ready for first team !.

  • HH,
    I thought of that too..not only were they team mates, they are country mates. A call from santi and nacho could see him decide that we are his next destination. I like Arsene’s idea of bringing in talent from Germany and Spain. German efficiency mixed with Spain’s skill and British heart forms a fantastic team, don’t you think?

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